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Improving communication between health services and doctors

In an effort to improve health outcomes for patients, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has released a new guide, Minimum Standards for Communicating between Health Services and General Practitioners and other Treating Doctors.

The Guide was adapted from an AMA Victoria document and provides criteria for communication to improve quality care.

The AMA has since written to all state and territory health departments and private hospitals, urging them to use the new standards to inform policy development.

Vice president and Melbourne GP Dr Tony Bartone said the AMA Guide encouraged all health care providers and institutions to share the responsibility of improving communication with patients.

“The Guide covers the patient journey from the community setting to treatment in a hospital or healthcare facility and return to the community – including clinical handover back to the patient’s general practitioner,” Dr Bartone said.

“Improving the communication between all the different providers in the health system can help to reduce re-admissions and minimise adverse events.

“More effective communication delivers improvements in satisfaction and experience for patients, carers, families, doctors and other health practitioners.”

Dr Bartone said GPs collaborated to create the document to reduce frustration and disruption in the health care system.

“GPs are the key coordinators of patient care, monitoring and managing their care and treatment. Any disruption to clear communication channels can have an adverse effect on patients,” Dr Bartone said.

“We are delivering very good outcomes for patients in the Australian health system, but we can and should do better. We are confident that the AMA Guide will contribute to improved communication and, in turn, better overall care.”

The AMA Guide covers vital criteria such as the timeliness of communication; communication processes; the interface with practice software systems; good quality referrals, better discharge processes, and secure electronic communication systems.

Dr Bartone said the work undertaken by AMA Victoria has been well received in that State and the AMA now wanted to apply the principles of the document on a national scale.

To view the document visit: https://ama.com.au/article/10-minimum-standards-communication.


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